Le Bremner

22 Feb

A quick story if I may: My first visit to Chuck Hughes’ restaurant Garde Manger was a defining experience for me food wise . We went as a family for my birthday (I think for my 20th) and I just fell in the love with the place. While the overall evening didn’t necessarily work for everyone at the table, everything about it worked for me. The look. The atmosphere. The awesome music. The crowd. And of course the food. Garde Manger showed me the kind of awesome experiences we here in Montreal are lucky to have and appreciate. It opened up a restaurant scene I didn’t really know existed back then – places that 20-somethings can enjoy great high end food in a environment that speaks to them. Garde Manger became one of my favorite restaurants that night and remains so today. I constantly remind myself that I need to go back more often. After Chuck and his partners opened up Le Bremner in 2011 a little further east on St-Paul St., I have been pinning to go. Last Friday, that opportunity finally presented itself.

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The restaurant maintains a very similar feel to Garde Manger – non-descript facade, quite easy to miss if you were to walk by. Once inside, a bar on one side and a small seating area on the other. The space emphasizes the beautiful exposed stone & brick walls, the wooden tables and nautical theme pieces with some low lighting, funky accents (skater stickers all over the room ACs) and amazingly great music mix. Any restaurant that plays Jay-Z and Sublime’s “Santeria” in the same evening is alright by me.

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Compared to its older brother, Le Bremner has a smaller menu and one very focused on seafood of all varieties. If you don’t like seafood, you probably shouldn’t bother eating here. Just come have a drink instead. To start off with, the table shared a couple of different entrees. First up, there was the snowcrab kimchee served on crispy rice cakes. Great use of the snowcrab to enhance the spicy kimchee in an unique way. It didn’t much for the rice cakes but they added a nice crunch to the dish.

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Next up, the fluke and mayo chicharron with crispy chicken skin. Very nice dish that I had never had before. Rich and creamy with the nice added crunch of the crispy skin. Given my lack of knowledge about this dish, I don’t have much to critique here.

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The shrimp and cornbread was the final entree. Great combination. The warm cornbread was wonderfully dense but not dry which is always my concern with cornbread. The shrimp was well seasoned and the whole dish had a nice sweetness to it. The items worked well separately but even better together.

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For mains, the rest of the table shared the lobster pizza. Imagine a pizza with lobster meat, cheese and lobster bisque as sauce. Then add a egg in the middle. Yeah… I know. Stop drooling. This pizza was love for all things lobster. The bisque added a whole other level of richness to your standard pizza. I could have eaten the whole thing my self but I needed to save some space for this…..

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Octopus and braised veal cheeks with fingerling potatoes, chipolini onions and fried coliflower. Once again, this was a dish where each item was great by itself but the combination made it that much better. The Octopus portion was huge and absolutely grilled to perfection. When you add to that the fatty goodness from the braised cheeks, the crispness of the fried colliflower, the sweetness of the onions and the starchiness of the potatoes, you have a perfectly well balanced dish that covers the gamut of textures and flavors. Simply a marvelous dish.

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And yet, after all that, we still had dessert to get to. First, pancakes with sucre à la creme and pimm’s butter. Thick and fluffy pancakes with sucre à la creme at 11:30 pm, what’s not to like? I had originally expected a crepe but was pleasantly surprised when the dish hit the table.

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And lastly, we ordered the chocolate pot de creme with peanut butter cream and salted caramel. The chocolate and peanut butter creams formed a rich, creme version of a Reese’s cup – never a bad thing. The only issue was the lack of presence of the salted caramel – could barely taste it. That would have taken the dessert over the top but alas…..

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This was a meal that I had waited for a long time and it absolutely did not disappoint. An enjoyable 2 and a half hour meal in the old port that has me wanting more. Garde Manger holds a special place in my restaurant Rolodex but Le Bremner has found its way close to that level. I will most definitely be visiting again…. I only hope it doesn’t take me this long between visits ever again.

Cheers!

Le Bremner
361 St-Paul East
514 544 0446

Le Bremner on Urbanspoon

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